Deepwater Horizon survivors were kept in seclusion after rig explosion, coerced into signing legal waivers

According to two surviving crew members of the Deepwater Horizon, oil workers from the rig were held in seclusion on the open water for up to two days after the April 20 explosion, while attorneys attempted to convince them to sign legal documents stating that they were unharmed by the incident.

The men claim that they were forbidden from having any contact with concerned loved ones during that time, and were told they would not be able to go home until they signed the documents they were presented with.Stephen Davis, a seven-year veteran of drilling-rig work from San Antonio, told The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg today that he was held on a boat for 36 to 40 hours after diving into the Gulf from the burning rig and swimming to safety.

Once on a crew boat, Davis said, he and the others were denied access to satellite phones or radio to get in touch with their families, many of whom were frantic to find out whether or not they were OK.

Davis’ attorney told Goldenberg that while on the boat, his client and the others were told to sign the statements presented to them by attorneys for Transocean – the firm that owned the Deepwater Horizon – or they wouldn’t be allowed to go home. After being awake for 50 harrowing hours, Davis caved and signed the papers. He said most of the others did as well.

Davis’ story seems to be backed up by a similar account given to NPR by another Deepwater Horizon crewmember earlier in the month. Christopher Choy, a roustabout on the rig, said that the lawyers gathered the survivors in the galley of a boat and said, “‘You need to sign these. Nobody’s getting off here until we get one from everybody.’ … At the bottom, it said something about, like, you know, this can be used as evidence in court and all that. I told them, ‘I’m not signing it.’ “

Choy said that once he was finally allowed to get off the boat, he was shuttled to a hotel, where he met up with his wife. At the hotel, representatives from Transocean confronted him again and badgered him to sign the statement. Exhausted, traumatized and desperate to go home, Choy said that he finally relented and signed.

Read moreDeepwater Horizon survivors were kept in seclusion after rig explosion, coerced into signing legal waivers

SPECIAL REPORT: Civil fine in Gulf spill could be $4,300 a barrel

Don’t hold your breath!


louisiana-barataria-bay
Scientist Douglas Inkley of the National Wildlife Federation pulls a broken oil boom on an island impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Barataria Bay, Louisiana May 25, 2010. (REUTERS)

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Just how many barrels of oil are gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon spill is a billion dollar question with implications that go beyond the environment. It could also help determine how much BP and others end up paying for the disaster.

A clause buried deep in the U.S. Clean Water Act may expose BP and others to civil fines that aren’t limited to any finite cap — unlike a $75 million limit on compensation for economic damages. The Act allows the government to seek civil penalties in court for every drop of oil that spills into U.S. navigable waters, including the area of BP’s leaking well.

As a result, the U.S. government could seek to fine BP or others up to $4,300 for every barrel leaked into the U.S. Gulf, according to legal experts and official documents.

Read moreSPECIAL REPORT: Civil fine in Gulf spill could be $4,300 a barrel

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Health Hazards

Dr. Michael Harbut, Karmanos Cancer Institute

Dr. Kathleen Burns, Sciencecorps

Many people will be exposed to airborne and waterborne chemicals as a result of the BP Gulf of Mexico spill.  It is important to understand the potential toxic effects and take appropriate steps to prevent or reduce exposure and harm.

Crude Oil Fact Sheet

Crude oil contains hundreds of chemicals, comprised primarily of hydrogen and carbon (e.g., simple straight chain paraffins, aromatic ring structures, naphthenes), with some sulfur, nitrogen, metal, and oxygen compounds (see Table D-1 in CDC, 1999 linked below).  Crude oil composition varies slightly by its source, but its toxic properties are fairly consistent. Chemicals such as benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are very toxic components of crude oil and of high concern.  These and other chemicals are volatile, moving from the oil into air.  Once airborne, they blow over the ocean for miles, reaching communities far from the oil spill.  They can be noticed as petroleum odors. Those working on the spill and people far from it can be exposed to crude oil chemicals in air.

We have prepared 1 page summaries for the public and for workers.  You can download and print them.

www.sciencecorps.org/crudeoilhazards-public.pdf

www.sciencecorps.org/crudeoilhazards-workers.pdf

Chemicals being applied to the water, such as dispersants, are also of concern.  We don’t have chemical composition details at this time, so can’t provide information on health hazards, beyond noting that most are reported to contain petroleum distillates, which pose health hazards when aspirated.  See EPA’s summary of oil spill response products (March 2010): http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/docs/oil/ncp/notebook.pdf

Exposure

Exposure can occur through skin contact, inhalation of contaminated air or soil, and ingestion of contaminated water or food. These can occur simultaneously.  Exposure pathways may result in localized toxicity (e.g., irritation of the skin following contact), but most health effects are systemic because ingredients can move throughout the body.  Exposure varies based on the duration and concentrations in contaminated media. Differences may result from location, work and personal activities, age, diet, use of protective equipment, and other factors.  Concurrent exposure to other toxic chemicals must be considered when evaluating toxic effects. Some chemicals in crude oil are volatile, moving into air easily, and these can often be detectable by smell.

Basic Physiological Effects

Crude oil is a complex mixture of chemicals that have varying abilities to be absorbed into the body through the skin, lungs, and during digestion of food and water. Most components of crude oil enter the bloodstream rapidly when they are inhaled or swallowed. Crude oil contains chemicals that readily penetrate cell walls, damage cell structures, including DNA, and alter the function of the cells and the organs where they are located. Crude oil is toxic, and ingredients can damage every system in the body:

– respiratory
– nervous system, including the brain
– liver
– reproductive/urogenital system
– kidneys
– endocrine system
– circulatory system
– gastrointestinal system
– immune system
– sensory systems
– musculoskeletal system

Read moreGulf of Mexico Oil Spill Health Hazards

Fishermen get severly ill from clean-up work in Gulf


Added: 21. Mai 2010

Gary Burris, a fisherman in coastal Louisiana, has become severely ill from inhaling fumes during response work following the Deepwater Horizon disaster and claims many more have become sick but hesitate to come forward for fear of losing their only remaining source of revenue.

Read moreFishermen get severly ill from clean-up work in Gulf

NASA Images Show Oil Entering Loop Current

(Click on image to enlarge.)
nasa-images-show-oil-entering-loop-current_01
Spread: The top NASA image shows the powerful ‘loop current’ of faster moving water the oil is hitting which circulates around the Gulf before bending around Florida and up the Atlantic coast. The bottom image shows the extent of the spill


Oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill has for the first time reached a powerful current that could take it to Florida and beyond, say scientists.

A small portion of the slick has entered the so-called ‘loop current’, a stream of faster moving water that circulates around the Gulf before bending around Florida and up the Atlantic coast, said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Read moreNASA Images Show Oil Entering Loop Current

New NASA Image of Gulf Oil Moving Towards Atlantic Ocean

A striking new image released by NASA today shows a massive column of oil extending out Southeast towards the open ocean.

This column has not been visible in any satellite photos taken so far and will change the estimated extent of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

striking-new-nasa-image-of-gulf-spill-moving-towards-atlantic-ocean

Source: The Daily Galaxy

More:

Worry That Gulf Oil Spreading Into Major Ocean Current

AP IMPACT: Fed’l Inspections on Rig Not as Claimed:

The federal agency responsible for ensuring that an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that inspections be done at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Since January 2005, the federal Minerals Management Service conducted at least 16 fewer inspections aboard the Deepwater Horizon than it should have under the policy, a dramatic fall from the frequency of prior years, according to the agency’s records.

Gulf of Mexico: Scientists Find Giant Plumes of Oil as Large as 10 Miles Long, 3 Miles Wide And 300 Feet Thick in Deep Waters:

Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. The latter figure would be 3.4 million gallons a day.

Beyond Stupid: BP CEO Tony Hayward:

“The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”

US Oil Spill: Scientists and Fishermen Alarmed Over Chemical Dispersants:

Approximately 325,000 gallons of dispersant have been deployed so far in BP’s effort to break up the spreading oil slick before it hits the fragile Gulf coast, and over 500,000 gallons more are available.

Rig firm makes $270m profit from Gulf of Mexico oil spill

US not accepting foreign help on oil spill

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: New NOAA Projection Map; BP’s High-Stakes Mission; And More News

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: The Halliburton Connection:

The company acknowledged Friday that it had completed the final cementing of the oil well and pipe just 20 hours before the blowout last week.

US Oil Spill Disaster Is Now ‘Out Of Control’

Worry That Gulf Oil Spreading Into Major Ocean Current

See also:

AP IMPACT: Fed’l Inspections on Rig Not as Claimed:

The federal agency responsible for ensuring that an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that inspections be done at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.

Since January 2005, the federal Minerals Management Service conducted at least 16 fewer inspections aboard the Deepwater Horizon than it should have under the policy, a dramatic fall from the frequency of prior years, according to the agency’s records.


Gulf Oil Spill
FILE – This image from a video released by BP PLC shows oil and gas spewing from a yellowish, broken pipe 5,000 feet below the surface. The video released Wednesday May 12, 2010 gives a not-yet-seen glimpse of the leaking well a mile underwater. The stream occasionally can be seen becoming lighter as natural gas mixes into the gusher. BP was confident Saturday May 15, 2010 its latest experiment using a mile-long pipe and stopper would capture much of the oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, even as the company disclosed yet another setback in the environmental disaster. (AP

NEW ORLEANS — BP said Monday it was siphoning more than one-fifth of the oil that has been spewing into the Gulf for almost a month, as worries escalated that the ooze may reach a major ocean current that could carry it through the Florida Keys and up the East Coast.

BP PLC chief operating officer Doug Suttles said Monday on NBC’s “Today” that a mile-long tube was funneling a little more than 1,000 barrels — 42,000 gallons — of crude a day from a blown well into a tanker ship. The company and the U.S. Coast Guard have estimated about 5,000 barrels — 210,000 gallons — have been spewing out each day. Engineers finally got the contraption working on Sunday after weeks of failed solutions — however, millions of gallons of oil are already in the Gulf of Mexico.

A researcher told The Associated Press that computer models show the oil may have already seeped into a powerful water stream known as the loop current, which could propel it into the Atlantic Ocean. A boat is being sent later this week to collect samples and learn more.

“This can’t be passed off as ‘it’s not going to be a problem,'” said William Hogarth, dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science. “This is a very sensitive area. We are concerned with what happens in the Florida Keys.”

Read moreWorry That Gulf Oil Spreading Into Major Ocean Current

Gulf of Mexico: Scientists Find Giant Plumes of Oil as Large as 10 Miles Long, 3 Miles Wide And 300 Feet Thick in Deep Waters

Beyond Stupid: BP CEO Tony Hayward:

“The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”

Up to 80,000 barrels of oil a day!


wildlife-treatment-center
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited a wildlife treatment center in Louisiana on Saturday.

Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.

“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”

The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes.

Dr. Joye said the oxygen had already dropped 30 percent near some of the plumes in the month that the broken oil well had been flowing. “If you keep those kinds of rates up, you could draw the oxygen down to very low levels that are dangerous to animals in a couple of months,” she said Saturday. “That is alarming.”

The plumes were discovered by scientists from several universities working aboard the research vessel Pelican, which sailed from Cocodrie, La., on May 3 and has gathered extensive samples and information about the disaster in the gulf.

Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. The latter figure would be 3.4 million gallons a day. But the government, working from satellite images of the ocean surface, has calculated a flow rate of only 5,000 barrels a day.

Read moreGulf of Mexico: Scientists Find Giant Plumes of Oil as Large as 10 Miles Long, 3 Miles Wide And 300 Feet Thick in Deep Waters

Gulf of Mexico oil spill: BP tower fails to contain oil

• First oil washes ashore in Alabama
• BP engineers admit rethink is needed
• Failed 100-tonne tower lifted off the seabed

gulf-of-mexico
Oil is seen on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico as BP tries to stop oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico. (Reuters)

Hopes of a quick fix to stop oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig gushing into the Gulf of Mexico were dashed on Saturday, when a build-up of crystallised gas blocked the pipes in the huge metal containment tower, which then had to be lifted from the seabed.

While BP engineers wrestled with the problem, reports came in of the first tar balls and tar beads washing up on the white sand beaches of Dauphin Island, off Alabama.

The metal tower, specially designed and constructed to cap the leak, is the height of a four-storey building and weighs 100 tonnes. The hope was it would hold the oil still gushing out of the well, which could then be siphoned out of the top, but the blocked pipes made that impossible.

The chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, said: “I wouldn’t say it’s failed yet. What I would say is what we attempted to do last night didn’t work because these hydrates plugged up the top of the dome.”

He predicted that it could take another 48 hours to find a resolution.

The problem is blamed on methane gas, partly frozen into slush by the cold temperatures on the seabed at 1,500 metres (5,000ft). Engineers anticipated the problem, but not the volume of the gas build-up in the pipes. Suttles said that solutions could include heating the area, or adding methanol to break up the hydrates.

Read moreGulf of Mexico oil spill: BP tower fails to contain oil

US not accepting foreign help on oil spill

State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley said there was no Iranian offer of assistance.

Oh, really? Here is Press TV (Iran’s television network):

Iran offers to help contain US oil spill (Press TV) (Mon, 03 May 2010 13:29:49 GMT):

The National Iranian Drilling Company (NIDC) has offered to assist the US in efforts to prevent an ecological disaster caused by the spreading oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
.

NIDC managing director Heidar Bahmani announced the firm’s readiness to use its decades-long expertise to fight the oil slick, the company’s public relations office told Press TV.

“Our oil industry experts in the field of drilling can contain the rig leakage in the Gulf of Mexico and prevent an ecological disaster in that part of the world,” Bahmani said.


p-j-crowley

When State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley refused to tell reporters which countries have offered assistance to help respond to the BP oil spill, the State Department press corps was flabbergasted.

“As a policy matter, we’re not going to identify those offers of assistance until we are able to see, you know, what we need, assess the ongoing situation. And as we accept those offers of assistance, we will inform you,” Crowley said.

Reporters pointed out that the Bush administration identified assistance offers after the Katrina disaster, so what is this, a new policy? They pressed Crowley, but he refused to budge.

Then they mentioned Iran’s offer of assistance, through its National Iranian Drilling Company. Crowley said there was no Iranian offer of assistance, at least in any official capacity. The reporters kept on it, asking why it was taking so long to figure out what was needed in the first place? That’s the Coast Guard’s decision, Crowley explained.

Late Wednesday evening, the State Department emailed reporters identifying the 13 entities that had offered the U.S. oil spill assistance. They were the governments of Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations.

“These offers include experts in various aspects of oil spill impacts, research and technical expertise, booms, chemical oil dispersants, oil pumps, skimmers, and wildlife treatment,” the email read.

“While there is no need right now that the U.S. cannot meet, the U.S. Coast Guard is assessing these offers of assistance to see if there will be something which we will need in the near future.”

Read moreUS not accepting foreign help on oil spill

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: New NOAA Projection Map; BP’s High-Stakes Mission; And More News

sea-turtle-in-the-gulf
A sea turtle in the gulf surfaced Wednesday to feed, swimming through patches of oxidizing oil mingling with chemical dispersants used by BP to break up oil.

Poisonous chemicals used to fight Gulf oil slick (MSNBC):

As they struggle to plug a leak from a ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, BP and federal officials are also engaging in one of the largest and most aggressive experiments with chemical dispersants in the history of the country, and perhaps the world.

With oil continuing to gush from the deep well, they have sprayed 160,000 gallons of chemical dispersant on the water’s surface and pumped an additional 6,000 gallons directly onto the leak, a mile beneath the surface.

New NOAA Projections Show Slick Curling Ominously Around The Louisiana Coast (Business Insider):

(Click on image to enlarge.)
noaa-projection-map

Gulf of Mexico oil spill: giant dome sent to capture leaking crude (Telegraph):

BP has dispatched a giant concrete “dome” on a high-stakes mission to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, knowingt that failure would leave crude spewing into the sea for months and magnify the risk of an environmental catastrophe.

Gulf of Mexico oil spill: Transocean-BP rig had safety valve problem in UK (Telegraph):

UK regulators issued a safety warning over a North Sea oil rig operated by Transocean and leased by BP five years ago.

Congressmen raised concerns about BP safety before Gulf oil spill (Guardian):

Letter pointed out that three BP pipelines on Alaska’s North Slope had ruptured or clogged, leading to a risk of explosions

In the months before BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig sank in a ball of fire in the Gulf of Mexico, the company had four close calls on pipelines and facilities it operates in Alaska, according to a letter from two congressmen obtained by ProPublica.

Gulf of Mexico oil slick hits wildlife reserve beaches (Telegraph):

The first tentacles of the giant Gulf of Mexico oil slick have washed up on beaches that are part of a wildlife refuge off the Louisiana coast.

Rusty streaks of crude could be seen closing in on the Chandeleur Islands and small, dark patches of oily sheen lapped ashore in some places close to flocks of birds.

The uninhabited island chain, 60-miles from New Orleans, is home to endangered brown pelicans, least tern and piping plover shore birds.

It is the easternmost point of Louisiana and forms part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, which is the second oldest wildlife refuge in the United States.


Related articles:

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: The Halliburton Connection (Los Angeles Times)

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: The Halliburton Connection

Halliburton had completed the final cementing of the oil well and pipe just 20 hours before the blowout last week.

Halliburton

Investigators delving into the possible cause of the massive gulf oil spill are focusing on the role of Houston-based Halliburton Co., the giant energy services company, which was responsible for cementing the drill into place below the water. The company acknowledged Friday that it had completed the final cementing of the oil well and pipe just 20 hours before the blowout last week.

In a letter to to Halliburton Chief Executive David J. Lesar on Friday, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, called on Halliburton officials to provide all documents relating to “the possibility or risk of an explosion or blowout at the Deepwater Horizon rig and the status, adequacy, quality, monitoring, and inspection of the cementing work” by May 7.

In a statement Friday, Halliburton said “it is premature and irresponsible to speculate on any specific causal issues.” The company had four employees stationed on the rig at the time of the accident, all of whom were rescued by the Coast Guard.  “Halliburton had completed the cementing of the final production casing string in accordance with the well design,” it said. “The cement slurry design was consistent with that utilized in other similar applications. In accordance with accepted industry practice … tests demonstrating the integrity of the production casing string were completed.”

Read moreGulf of Mexico Oil Spill: The Halliburton Connection

US Oil Spill Disaster Is Now ‘Out Of Control’

See also:

BP warned of rig fault ten years ago (Times)

US oil spill could bill could exceed $14 billion (Reuters)

Current timeline to shut down Gulf of Mexico oil spill: three months (Christian Science Monitor)

BP accused as size of oil slick triples in a day (Independent)

BP and Shell ‘not meeting safety standards on North Sea oil rigs’ (Guardian)

Whistleblower: BP Risks More Massive Catastrophes in Gulf (Truthout):

A former contractor who worked for British Petroleum (BP) claims the oil conglomerate broke federal laws and violated its own internal procedures by failing to maintain crucial safety and engineering documents related to one of the firms other deepwater production projects in the Gulf of Mexico, according to internal emails and other documents obtained by Truthout.


oil-spill-disaster-is-now-out-of-control
A Northern Gannet found in the Gulf of Mexico, south of Louisiana, is given treatment (Reuters)

President Barack Obama will today visit the Gulf of Mexico coastline threatened by the giant oil spill, as experts warn that the spill from a ruptured oil rig might be growing five times faster than previously estimated.

The oil is gushing from BP’s sunken Deepwater Horizon rig at 25,000 barrels a day and could reach 50,000 barrels a day, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Earlier estimates had put the leak at 5,000 barrels a day.

Professor Ian MacDonald, an ocean specialist at Florida State University, said the new estimate suggested that the leak had already spread 9 million gallons of heavy crude oil across the Gulf. This compares with 11 million that leaked from the Exxon Valdez tanker when it hit a reef off Alaska in 1989.

Hans Gruber, a Miami University researcher, said that satellite images of the slick on Friday showed that it was three time bigger than estimated, covering an area of 3,500 sq miles (9,000 sq km), similar in size to Puerto Rico.

Read moreUS Oil Spill Disaster Is Now ‘Out Of Control’

Gulf of Mexico: Oil well hit by fatal explosion produces slick the size of Hong Kong

gulf-of-mexico-oil-well-hit-by-fatal-explosion-produces-slick-the-size-of-hong-kong

An oil slick covering 400sq miles is threatening a slow-motion catastrophe for the Gulf of Mexico’s delicate marine life, with 42,000 gallons (160,000 litres) a day now gushing from an uncapped well after a rig explosion.

Two days after declaring that there was no leak and that oil on the surface was residue from on board the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform that burst into a fireball on Tuesday, officials revealed that the slick was coming from the seabed and was now 25 times the size it was on Friday.

“It’s 1,000 barrels [a day] emanating from 5,000ft below the surface,” said Rear-Admiral Mary Landry, of the US Coast Guard, who is overseeing the emergency response. “Absolutely, this is a very serious oil spill.”

BP, which leased the rig, said last week that it was doing everything in its power to contain the spill and resolve the situation “as rapidly, safely and effectively as possible”, using underwater robots, 700 personnel, five aircraft, 32 vessels, and nearly 200 miles of floating booms.

Read moreGulf of Mexico: Oil well hit by fatal explosion produces slick the size of Hong Kong